AARP holds senators accountable for key bipartisan Medicare vote. Learn more




Enter an ingredient, course or keyword and get cooking!

Most Popular


How to Eat for a Happy New Year

Six foods that bring prosperity, longevity and luck

Bowl of hoppin' john

Bowl of Hoppin' John — Smneedham/Getty Images

The winter holidays are steeped with family and cultural traditions and New Year's is no different. Throughout the world, various foods eaten on New Year's Eve are thought to symbolize luck, prosperity and longevity in the coming year. But really, what is luckier than being in good health, and thus being able to really enjoy your longevity? 

Even if your New Year's resolutions include improving your eating habits and dropping a few pounds, you can have a festive and delicious New Year's Eve, with a couple of dishes for prosperity thrown in for good measure.


In many cultures, beans are a symbol of prosperity, because they resemble coins, and because they swell when they cook, as one hopes one's wealth will expand. In the south of France, chickpeas are the legume of choice, and here in the U.S. black-eyed peas are always on the table in the Southern region, often in the form of Hopping John. The Italians are partial to eating lentils to usher in the New Year, often in combination with sausage or pork. Beans are an amazing source of meatless protein, and have tons of fiber and complex carbohydrates, and virtually no cholesterol or fat. And, they are inexpensive, so you're already on your way to increased prosperity!

Lentil Minestrone by Deborah Madison

Hopping John by Christopher Idone

Salad of Limas, Green Beans and Chickpeas with Lemon and Parsley by Crescent Dragonwagon


The Italians also think of pork as a symbol of abundance and good fortune (other European and South American cultures do as well). One saying goes that if you have pork on New Year's you'll live "high on the hog" in the coming year. Pork is available in many lean cuts, and can be a healthful alternative to beef for the main course of a New Year's dinner.

Marinated Pork Loin by Penelope Casas

Chunky Pork Shoulder Ragu by Michele Scicolone

Orange Glazed Pork by Maria Filice


Greens also represent wealth because of their color, as well as growth, and it's well established that greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach and cabbage are rich in nutrients and a key to eating for good health. Leafy dark greens are full of vitamins, calcium, iron and magnesium.

Wilted Greens by Frank Stitt

Farro and Cabbage Soup by Julia della Croce

Baked Spinach with Garlicky Bread Crumbs by Leslie Revin

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Services & Discounts

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

denny's restaurant member discount membership

Members save 15% all day, every day when dining at participating Denny’s restaurants.

Member Benefit Discount Dunkin Donuts Cream

Members get a FREE Donut with purchase of a L or XL beverage at Dunkin' Donuts.

Outback membership benefit aarp festive steak dinner

Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Outback Steakhouse.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.